Columbus Memorial Plaza, located in Chicago's Little Italy, was built as site for this Columbus statue. Italian Americans raised $10,000 in 1967 to maintain the statue. Annual ceremony on Columbus Day.
The plaque at the foot of the statue:
DEDICATED OCTOBER 12, 1966
THE STATUE OF COLUMBUS, CREATED BY THE SCULPTOR MOSES EZEKIEL, AND CAST IN
ROME IN 1893, WAS COMMISSIONED BY THE OWNERS OF THE COLUMBUS MEMORIAL
BUILDING FOR THE OPENING OF THE WORLD'S COLUMBIAN EXPOSITION.
THE DEVELOPMENT OF THIS PLAZA INVOLVED THE COOPERATIVE EFFORTS OF THE
COLUMBUS STATUE COMMITTEE, THE MUNICIPAL ART LEAGUE, THE CHICAGO BANK
DISTRICT, THE NEAR WESTSIDE CONSERVATION COMMUNITY COUNCIL, THE CHICAGO
DEPARTMENT OF URBAN RENEWAL AND OTHER CITY OFFICES.
COLUMBUS PLAZA IS LOCATED IN THE HEART OF THE NEAR WEST SIDE CONSERVATION
AREA IN THE CENTER OF THE POLK-LEXINGTON GREENWAY. THE FIRST PARK-MALL
BUILT UNDER THE CITY OF CHICAGO'S COMMUNITY IMPROVEMENT PROGRAM.
THE FLOW THEME OF THE PARK-MALL IS FURTHER CARRIED OUT, SYMBOLICALLY IN
COLUMBUS PLAZA. THE LARGE MASS OF THE NORTH WALL WITH ITS EARTH BERM
REPRESENTS THE FORCE OF WIND, ONYX INSERTS IN THE SOUTH WALL WITH ITS EARTH
BERM REPRESENT THE FORCE OF WAVES, THE THIRD FREE STANDING WALL REPRESENTS A
SAIL. THE STATUE OF COLUMBUS, IN THE SUPER-ELLIPSOID FORM GRANITE FOUNTAIN,
FACES THE WESTWARD AXIS OF THE POLK STREET GREENWAY.
Monument in Columbus Plaza by David E. Nye
This nine-foot bronze statue of Christopher Columbus was cast in Rome,
Italy on July 22, 1892. It was commissioned by the owners of the Columbus
Memorial Building for the opening of the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition.
The building was located on State and Washington Streets in downtown
Chicago. The statue is now located in Columbus Plaza of Arrigo Park on the
corner of Loomis and Polk streets in the Old Italian section of Chicago,
The Columbus statue lost its perch on the Columbus Memorial Building
when the building was torn down in 1959. For six years the statue reclined
on its back in a lumberyard until the Chicago Tribune published a story
about it inglorious situation. According to the Chicago Tribune,
"Chicagoans of Italian extraction acted, and several months later the statue
was back on its feet again, a star attraction of the city's 1965 Columbus
Day parade." A committee headed by Attorney Victor A. Arrigo was
instrumental in sparking community interest in the statue. As a result of
this community spirit, the statue was formally dedicated in Columbus Plaza
(Arrigo Park) on Columbus Day the next year (1966).
Restored by Stephen Roman (1966).
- Sir Moses Jacob Ezekiel (1844-1917), sculptor
Sources & Information
- Library of Congress, Photographs from the Chicago Daily News, 1902-1933. Chicago Daily News negatives collection, DN-0056674. Courtesy of the Chicago Historical Society
- David E. Nye, "Monument in Columbus Plaza", Discovery! col. 19, no. 3 (12 July 2001): 1334.
- NIAF - Tributes to Christopher Columbus in the United States (see the "Links": section).
- Old photo: Library of Congress, American Memory.
- Information from Alan Gornik, Western Springs, IL.
- Smithsonian American Art Museum, SIRIS (Smithsonian Institution Research Information system).
Location N 41°52'18" W 87°39'40"
Item Code: usil08
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